Re- opening of Loakan Airport for commercial flights

BAGUIO CITY- Pending the construction of an alternate road -as a long term solution, residents of Barangay Loakan and nearby areas appealed for a status quo, allowing them to pass through the airport runway. The status quo applies when the siren sounds, signaling an aircraft about to land or takes-off, the runway will be closed while on taxi or parked, the (runway) will be open to pass through.

“This practice has been happening for the past 100 years … residents cross the runway, its been there lifestyle… its matter of respect. ..and no untoward incidents had happened,” Adon Carantes said ,a member of the indigenous cultural community, who steered the dialogue, held on Wednesday (Dec. 7) at the Ibaloy Heritage Park. Historical and news accounts, the area (airport) was then the main source of
livelihood by native Igorots (Ibaloys).It’s rolling hills on a plateau yield rice and taro (gabi) fields.

The dialogue was mainly to discuss the impending “total closure” of the airport to residents of the area was
participated by a number of the affected residents of the said barangays. During the dialogue, they expressed support for the opening of the airport for commercial flights which will boost tourism and economy of the city and the region as a whole. However, they asked local officials to attend to their plight
withstanding the lack of an alternative route which shall enable learners to have an access in going to their
respective schools; and attend medical, social and economic needs.

For a long term solution, Basilio Binay-an, ex-Barangay Chairman of Loakan ,emphatically said it’s high time for alternate road to be constructed to service the need not only for his tribe but for the growing populace. By doing so, he suggested that some properties has to be expropriated to give way for a possible route. Lack of Political Will- Broken Promises When asked about what seemingly the reason why
authorities concern and local officials failed to address the issue, especially providing an alternate road: “Lack of political will,”Binay-an quipped.

Some residents decried broken promises by local politicians , who during political campaigns vowed to address their plight- lack of an alternate road. Officials of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and Philippine Air Force (PAF), who earlier signified their presence failed to attend. According to Council Jose Molintas, who was also present in the said dialogue, told mediamen that the council has invited officials of CAAP and PAF to shed light on the issue on its session on Monday (Dec. 12.).

Benjie Macadangdang, executive assistant to the Mayor for Barangay Affairs also attended the meeting, who after the dialogue rushed to meet local CAAP officials. Come Dec 16, the country’s flag carrier – Philippine Airlines will reopen it’s commercial flights to Loakan airport which was built in 1934 by American colonial government. For the record, PAL’s first flight was on March 15,1941 (Manila-Baguio), performed by
a Beechcraft Model 8 which carried five passengers .The historic flight ushered the dawn of aviation in the Philippines and Asia. For residents of Loakan and nearby areas await the dawn when construction of an
alternate road begins.

Primo Agatep/ABN

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